“The British are not ashamed of their Empire but we are of ours”
André Jordan, one of the founders of the luxury golf tourism concept in Portugal, has called for the construction of a Museum of Discoveries highlighting Portugal’s rich history of maritime exploration in a bid to boost the country’s tourism sector and attract more holidaymakers.
The statement came in an interview with Sol newspaper after André Jordan was named an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II (click here).
The 87-year-old entrepreneur, who played a key role in the development of the country’s luxury golf resort sector, said “a lot of good could come from creating a museum that focuses on the country’s history of discoveries”.
Lambasting Portugal’s recovery plan to overcome the pandemic, which he said seems more like a “university thesis”, André Jordan lamented that the tourism sector is hardly even taken into account although it accounts, along with the construction sector, for more than 25% of Portugal’s GDP.
“I think tourism has to improve and it can only improve by creating attractions, quality events and museums. I am extremely in favour of a Museum of Discoveries,” he told Sol.
However, Portugal’s history of discoveries has been the subject of debate recently as not everyone believes that it should be highlighted – something the entrepreneur strongly disagrees with.
“For example, I won the OBE British Empire award. The British have no problem calling it ‘the British Empire’. Here, it would be a scandal. We are missing out for not having a Museum of Discoveries. It would make a big difference for tourism in Portugal, especially if it was done smartly, exalting the territories Portugal discovered and countries it had links with,” said André Jordan.
According to the entrepreneur, it would even attract people from those very countries.
“For example, in Warsaw there is a museum focusing on the history of the Jewish in Poland, which has a section that focuses on the Holocaust. But most of it is positive. Thousands and thousands of Jewish families from Poland, USA and other countries go to Warsaw to visit the museum. The same would happen with Portugal’s Museum of Discoveries,” said the Brazilian-Portuguese entrepreneur of Polish-Jewish origins.
André Jordan stressed that Portugal’s discoveries are studied at schools across the globe and that people know who Fernão de Magalhães and Álvares de Cabral were.
“They want to see more of that history but cannot because there is a complex about slavery. The British and even the Brazilians had slavery too but that doesn’t mean they don’t have museums. It is ridiculous,” he said.
Overall, André Jordan believes Portugal needs to improve the quality of its tourism.
“We need to strengthen the cultural aspect and raise the bar of quality tourism,” he said, adding that “cheap tourism does not pay”.
The tourism specialist also criticised the government for barely investing in the tourism sector.
“I never got a penny from the State for anything. But I also never asked,” he said.
Asked if Portugal could become a top destination for pensioners such as Florida, André Jordan said Portugal could become even better.
“We currently have first-rate medical care and hospitals, excellent agriculture, similar but more diversified than Florida’s, better universities than Florida, and a milder climate in the summer than Florida,” he told the paper.
“We also have golf courses which are on a par with Florida’s and finally a cost of living that is half of Florida’s.”